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wind in my fury; and there shall be an overflowing showerin mine anger, and great hailstones in my fury to consume it. So will I break down the wall that ye have daubed with untempered mortar, and bring it down to the ground, so that the foundation thereof shall be discovered, and it shall fall, and ye shall be consumed in the midst thereof: and ye shall know that I am the Lord.” The same allusion is involved in the prediction of Amos, where he denounces the judgments of God against a profligate and re. fractory people : “ For, behold, the Lord commandeth, and he will smite the great house with breaches, and the little house with clefts.”p The palaces of the great and the cottages of the poor, seem to have been constructed of the same fragile material; for they were affected by the storm, and the tempest in the same manner, and when the cup of iniquity is full, are dissolved by the same shower.
Many of the oriental buildings, however, have displayed unrivalled magnificencence and splendour. The walls, çolumns, floors and minarets of the mosques were of the choicest marble, granite and porphyry, inlaid with agates and precious stones. The ornamental parts were of gold and silver, or consisted of the most elegant borders, with festoons of fruit and flowers in their natural colours, composed entirely of agates, cornelians, turquoises, lapis-lazuli, and other valuable gems. The hangings and carpets were of the richest manufacture : And the splendid edifice was illumined with chandeliers of massive gold. “ How forcibly,” says Forbes, “ do these remind us of the truth and beauty of the metaphorical language in the sacred page, promising sublime and spiritual joys, in allusion to these subjects in eastern palaces.” In the prophecies of
P Amos vi, 11.
Isaiah this most encouraging declaration is made to the Gentile nations : “ I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones. 9 · In Africa, by the testimony of Dr. Shaw, they beat their mortar with mallets ;t but in Canaan and the surrounding regions, they trod it with their feet. To this last custom, the prophet clearly refers in his challenge to the heathen gods, to prove their title to divine honours, by disclosing the secrets of futurity: “ I have raised up one from the north, and he shall come; from the rising of the sun shall he call upon my name; and he shall come upon princes as upon mortar, and as the potter treadeth clay." The allusion is still more clearly made by the prophet Nahum in his address to Nineveh : “ Draw thee waters for the siege, fortify thy strong holds; go into clay, and tread the mortar, make strong the brick kiln.”+ To the same custom, although in more obscure terms, the prophet Malachi may be supposed to refer : “ Ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet.”u In the opinion of some expositors, the wicked are here compared to ashes, because the prophet had been speaking of their destruction under the figure of burning. But the sacred writers, having a much higher object in view than to exemplify the rules of the rhetorician, do not always keep close to the figures with which they set out; and if they did, Malachi would not have expressed himself in such terms, unless the custom
* 9 Isa. liv, 11, 12. Forbes's Orient. Mem. vol. iii, p. 103, 104, 144. * Trav. vol. i, p. 372.
Nahum iii, 14. Isa. xli, 25.
u Mal. iv, 3.
of treading ashes in making mortar or cement, had prevailed in his days.
The general style of building in the east, seems to have continued from the remotest ages down to the present times, without alteration or any attempt at improvement, Large doors, spacious chambers, marble pavements, cloistered courts, with fountains sometimes playing in the midst, are certainly conveniences well adapted to the circumstances of these hotter climates. All the windows of their dwellings, if we except a small latticed window or balcony which sometimes looks into the street, open into their respective courts or quadrangles ; an arrangement probably dictated by the jealousy which unceasingly disturbs the repose of an oriental householder. It is only during the celebration of some public festival, that these houses, and their latticed windows or balconies, are left open." · The streets of an oriental city, the better to shade the inhabitants from the sun, are commonly narrow, with sometimes a range of shops on each side. People of the same trade occupy the same street. Both in Persia and in
Turkey the trades are carried on in separate bazars, in which their shops are extended adjacent to each other on both sides of the building. The remark equally applies to Damascus and other cities in the Lesser Asia. The entrance from the streets into one of the principal houses, is through a porch or gateway, with benches on each side, where the master of the family receives visits, and dispatches business ; few persons, not even the nearest relations, having further admission, except upon extraordinary
Malcom's Hist. of Persia, vol. ii, p. 522. Lady M. W. Montagu's Letters, vol. i, p. 209. . w Shaw's Trav. vol. i, p. 373.
* Morier's Trav. vol. i, p. 102. y Richardson's Trav. vol. ii, p. 468.
occasions. The door of the porch by which a person enters the court, is very small; sometimes not above three feet high. The design of such low and inconvenient doors is, to prevent the Arabs from riding into the houses to plunder them; for these freebooters, who are almost centaurs, seldom think of dismounting in their excursions ; and therefore, the peaceable inhabitants find such small entrances, the easiest and most effectual way of preventing their violence. To this singular practice the royal preacher may be supposed to refer : “ He that exalteth his gate, seeketh destruction.” It can hardly be supposed, that Solomon mentioned the loftiness of the gate, rather than other circumstances of magnificence in a building, as the wideness of the house, the airiness of the rooms, the cedar ceilings, and the vermilion paintings, which the prophet Jeremiah specifies as pieces of grandeur, without some particular meaning. But if bands of Arabs had taken the advantage of large doors to enter into houses in his territories, or in the surrounding kingdoms, the apophthegm possesses a singular propriety and force. We have the more reason to believe that Solomon had his eye on the insolence of the Arabs, in riding into the houses of those they meant to plunder, because the practice seems not to have been unusual in other countries; and is not now peculiar to those plunderers. The Armenian merchants at Julfa, the suburb of Ispahan, in which they reside, find it necessary to make the front door of their houses in general small, partly to hinder the Persians, who treat them with great rigour and insolence, from entering them on horseback, and partly to prevent them from
z Shaw's Trav. vol. i, p. 374. Buckingham's Trav. vol. ü, p. 386. See also Malcom's Hist. of Persia, vol. ii, p. 551. a Prov. xvii, 19.
observing the magnificent furniture within. But the habitation of a man in power is known by his gate, which is generally elevated in proportion to the vanity of its owner. A lofty gate is one of the insignia of royalty ; and it must have been the same in ancient times. The gates of Jerusalem, of Zion, and other places are often mentioned in the Scripture with the same notions of grandeur annexed to them : thus the Psalmist addresses the gates of Zion; “ Lift up your heads, O ye gates ; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors : and the king of Glory shall come in.”
From the gate of the porch, one is conducted into the quadrangular court, which, being exposed to the weather, is paved with stone, in order to carry off the water in the rainy season. The principal design of this quadrangle, is to give light to the house, and admit the fresh air into the apartments; it is also the place where the master of the house entertains his company, which are seldom or never honoured with admission into the inner apartments. This open space bears a striking remblance to the impluvium or cava cedium of the Romans, which was also an uncovered area, from whence the chambers were lighted. For the accommodation of the guests, the pavement is covered with mats or carpets; and as it is secured against all interruption from the street, is well adapted to public entertainments. It is called, says Dr. Shaw, the middle of the house, and literally answers to the touscoy of the Evangelist, into which the man afflicted with the palsy was let down through the ceiling, with his couch, before Jesus. Hence, he conjectures that our Lord was at this
b Psa. xxiv, 7. Morier's Trav. vol. i, p. 135. See Morier's Trav. vol. i, p. 79, 81.
d Luke v, 19.